The Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll is a world-first global study. It looks at the worries that arise around perceived risks to people’s safety. The second edition of the Poll has now been published, following the initial 2019 study. This report is the culmination of around 125,000 interviews, conducted by Gallup in 121 countries during 2021. It provides useful insights into what plagues our worried minds, and how trends have changed in this respect.
Worry vs experience of risk
Whilst there was a notable increase in the number of people stating that they feel less safe than five years previously (from 30% to 34%), Covid-19 surprisingly did not feature that highly on the list of people’s safety concerns. Central and Western Africa saw a significant increase in worry, from 38% to 51%, with road accidents, crime and violence the biggest risks on people’s list of perceived threats. Latin America (43%) and Southern Africa (42%) saw the highest recorded rate in respect of fears about personal safety due to crime and violence.
More than four out of ten people in these regions worry about becoming a victim of crime or violence. However, globally, the perception of the threat that violence poses to a person’s security is not in line with the actual reality. In fact, the likelihood of harm befalling a person as a result of violence and crime is often low when compared with the level of worry.
Understanding worry and experiences of harm at work
Meanwhile, the Poll shows that people globally are more likely to have experienced harm through their work than from crime, and yet worry about this less – less than they have experienced it, and less than they worry about crime.
The Poll revealed that 24% of people worldwide said they had experienced or knew someone who had experienced serious harm from their work in the past two years. However, 19% said they were very worried about such harm.
This insight is helpful when designing employee wellbeing or wellness programmes and demonstrates that employers should take note of staff perceptions or worries. The report cautions that the disjoint between perception versus reality could hamper efforts to address work-related harm. With employers grappling to implement policies to give effect to legal obligations or to differentiate themselves in a competitive market, understanding employee fears and worries is useful in creating effective programmes. It will also allow employers to manage staff needs based on regional realities: workers in Southern Africa are much more likely to respond positively to an initiative aimed at empowering them to deal with concerns about workplace safety than their counterparts in Australia and New Zealand, for example, where only 5% expressed concern about this issue.
In many jurisdictions, employers attract some level of liability for creating and maintaining a safe working environment. Understanding that staff have differing views about the true nature of this risk is a good start in successfully managing it. Being able to tap into what causes worry, stress or anxiety to employees is critical in creating a culture where staff can come to work and perform at their optimal levels. Being able to show the reasonable steps taken to create a safe workplace could also assist employers to manage the legal risk inherent in claims relating to workplace safety.